Rakdos Sacrifice Deck Guide – #2 Mythic (Updated)

Mayhem Devil Art by Dmitry Burmak
Mayhem Devil Art by Dmitry Burmak

Rakdos, a colour combination beloved by many, and yet so few times has it ever been playable, let alone a competitive option to bring to any high stakes tournament. It wasn’t until Theros Beyond Death that the Rakdos Sacrifice archetype finally started taking shape; fast forward to the release of Core Set 21 and Rakdos got some new toys to play with, but the few really outshone the many.

My name is Samsoni1 and I managed to hit Rank #2 on July 1st and 31st in the Red Bull International Qualifier II with Rakdos Sacrifice. I’ll be going over some of my choices, the ins and outs of playing the deck, and how to sideboard versus certain matchups.

July 16th Update: This guide has been updated after my performance at the Red Bull International Qualifier II in which I placed 31st and made day 2. I made small changes to the deck so with that in mind here are the changes.

Decklist

Deck Summary

A deck that seeks to exploit sacrifice synergies to gain a massive early advantage over its opponents, and dominates creature decks by stealing and sacrificing their stuff or invalidating attackers with the Cauldron Familiar-Witch’s Oven combo.

Archetype: Rakdos Sacrifice
Format: Traditional (BO3) Standard
Tier: 1

The Good

  • Capable of explosive aggressive starts.
  • Still great in the late game, has good chances to win by burning away the opponent’s life total directly or replenishing its hand a bunch.
  • Great matchups against all manner of creature decks.

The Bad

  • Not as fast as the true aggressive decks; can sometimes be too slow to kill decks like Reclamation, which have absurd midgame.
  • Some weaknesses to graveyard hate.
  • Awkward two-colour aggro deck mana base.

Card Choices

We have the core package of Cauldron Familiar, Witch’s Oven, Claim the Firstborn, Priest of Forgotten Gods, Woe Strider, and Mayhem Devil, as always. This build is very much centered on aggression; we are not trying to out-value our opponents with Reaper or accrue small amounts of extra value. Our objective is to reduce our opponent’s life total from 20 to 0 in the quickest way possible.

Let’s go more in detail in some of the choices with this deck:

Main Deck

Jegantha, the Wellspring (Companion): Jegantha is literally free to be used as a companion in this deck: we lose out on Rankle who has never really a key part of the deck and we lose out on maybe two potential sideboard cards. which are easily replaceable. The Companion tax is generally not an issue, and rarely are you ever in a position where you NEED to get Jegantha onto the board; instead, you will find a lot of situations where you just have three extra mana, from Priest activation or in general, especially in the later game. Jegantha really just reads as a 5/5 beatstick or two food tokens, which matter a lot more than you might think as I have won more games because of those than I would like to admit…

Village Rites: A new addition from M21 and one of the most powerful sacrifice effects in recent memory. This allows you to go a bit longer without running out of gas vs some of the midrange and control matchups, while also allowing you to sacrifice creatures you Claim the Firstborn from your opponents, if you don’t have one of your other sacrifice outlets. This card isn’t that great in aggro matchups; I usually end up cutting one or both of them there as they are a good comeback card, but having multiples when you want to have a board state isn’t helpful.

Dreadhorde Butcher: Dreadhorde Butcher has served me time and time again; this card will beat face and, if left uncontested, WILL kill your opponents by itself. It can be a little rough with the rise of Bant decks running Arboreal Grazer, but the card is good enough, regardless of the downsides.

Call of the Death-Dweller: A new card from Ikoria, I used to run this as a one-of but with the new cards from M21, I’ve increased it to two. This card combos amazingly well with Mayhem Devil, Judith, and Butcher, as giving any of those creatures deat touch generally is game over for your opponent, granting you insane tempo swings or just complete control over the board – if those cards have deathtouch, their ping effects will destroy any creature.

Judith, the Scourge Diva: Judith is to be used here as your fifth and sixth copy of Mayhem Devil, while simultaneously being a better standalone card than Devil, which doesn’t have the same impact without specific synergies, which the deck has many of. Judith, with her Anthem effect, helps you push a lot of damage when you face the ramp and control decks; she may look weak on paper, but in practice she puts in a LOT of work.

Gutterbones: Gutterbones is in here to be a very aggressive and recursive threat. While Serrated Scorpion is a consideration over Gutterbones, the meta is looking to be in a good spot to jam the boney boy. I would not be surprised if I started to run the Scorp over Bones in the future.

Noxious Grasp: With the increase of Scavenging Ooze, Nissa, Who Shakes the World, and Nightpack Ambusher being main decked by Temur Reclamation decks and Bant with its ability to tune its deck to be particularly vindictive to whatever they feel like, I’ve felt that main decking two copies of grasp has been very helpful and even vital in order to stay ahead of this meta. The only time this card is dead is if you’re against Mono Red, Mono Black, or the mirror.

Sideboard

Liliana’s Standard Bearer: SO….Buckle up. This card is here to be your BETTER Midnight Reaper; yes, I know that statement sounds suspicious, but hear me out. Midnight Reaper is only good when your opponent is killing your creatures or if you are killing your own creatures, which isn’t that reliable. In the current meta, there are 2 other decks that are killing your dudes: Bant and Aggro decks, and aggro decks LOVE to see a Reape, since it’s going to help them kill you. Bant doesn’t care about Reaper since they have 5 million different ways of dealing with it before they wipe your boardstate.

NOW STANDARD BEARER ON THE OTHER HAND. You only want this card in matchups like Bant or U/W or Temur Rec: if you can’t get good value out of your Call of the Death-Dwellers, you bring in Bearers over them. The way you want to play with this card is simple: does your opponent wrath the board? Cool, flash this in afterwards; you can also leave your Cauldron Familiar to die, not oven it, and simply flash this dude in, hold priority (Full Control) and sac the Bearer in response to its ETB trigger. This allows you to draw more cards, or you can just leave it on the board and have a 3/1 beater. Also, Bearer mitigates the power of instant-speed wraths, since you just draw your new hand in main phase 2 if they wrath in combat. You can even do some fancy plays with Priest of the Forgotten Gods, since a good amount of the times you will be activating Priest in combat to deal with flash creatures or sharknados. Bearer also gives you a good way to use your mana in areas you may not expect. Just trust me on this on and give it a try; I promise I’m not memeing with this card.

Rotting Regisaur: Everyones favorite big stupid idiot dino, you bring this boi in vs Temur Reclamation, Mono Red, Mono Green and Gruul. If you need a wall and a beater this is your boi. I get a lot of questions about why I don’t bring this in vs Bant and the answer is simple. They have too many ways to deal with it, From Glass Casket, Devout Decree, Teferi, Time Raveler, Elspeth Conquers Death to straight up Shatter the Sky. You never want to bring it in against any deck that has access to White or Black, exception being Four-Color Reclamation (but that deck doesn’t count!).

Eliminate: Eliminate is Black’s version of Scorching Dragonfire; I’m still working on numbers and may bump this up to two, but right now I’m really happy with how this card is performing. If you have doubts, just consider how much you care about an exile clause over straight up kill a dude.

Tormod’s Crypt: So you may be asking why isn’t this Soul-Guide Lantern? Simple, this card is FREE; the fact that it costs zero mana allows you to have a lot of random combo turns where you can Claim say a Cauldron Familiar, Village Rites it, and then cast Crypt to get rid of that Cat for good, all on turn 2. This card is a lot more effective in my build than others since we have such a high count of 1 and 2 cost spells in our deck, I prefer the speed of crypt and its ability to play it while being aggressive than being value focused with Soul-Guide Lantern. The other thing you want to think about is exiling your opponent’s grave is never worth a Mana and it’s barely worth a card for that matter. Remember this deck is an aggro deck; yes, drawing cards is nice but just straight up exiling your opponents bin, for literally no mana, is much better for our strategy.

Matchup and Sideboard Guide

I am always evolving and trying to tune the sideboard best for the meta at hand. If you check this article again next week, there is a good chance you will see something different as I update the list while the meta progresses or evolves.  That being said, let’s go over what to take in/out when you face certain matchups.

Bant Ramp/Flash

InOut
3 Agonizing Remorse
1 Noxious Grasp
2 Liliana’s Standard Bearer
2 Embereth Shieldbreaker
2 Village Rites
1 Claim the Firstborn
1 Gutterbones
1 Priest of Forgotten Gods
1 Dreadhorde Butcher
1 Mayhem Devil
1 Call of the Death-Dweller

Bant can be tricky as there going to be bringing in Glass Caskets, Devout Decrees and, on top of that, they play Ugin. You really need to aggro this deck down, while also making sure you don’t overextend into a Shatter which, if you do, you have Liliana’s Standard Bearer to help mitigate the losses.

If you’re on the draw I keep 1 Rite in, if you’re on the play I keep 3 Claims.

Sultai Ramp

InOut
3 Agonizing Remorse
1 Noxious Grasp
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Act of Treason
1 Village Rites
1 Claim the Firstborn
1 Gutterbones
1 Priest of Forgotten Gods
1 Mayhem Devil
1 Call of the Death-Dweller

Sultai is by far one of your harder matchups, since most of their board removal is exile-based. You always have to respect your opponent having Cry of the Carnarium, so sac Cauldron Familiar on your turn while you have Cat Oven out, even if it means you do less damage. Call isn’t that great here, since their removal is exile-based, but it’s still helpful to catch yourself back up. If your opponent doesn’t have Polukranos or Cavalier, you can take Act of Treason out and add Priest back in. You side one Devil out, as he’s a tad slow, and Judith will kill your opponent much faster.

Temur Reclamation

InOut
3 Rotting Regisaur
3 Agonizing Remorse
1 Noxious Grasp
1 Liliana’s Standard Bearer
1 Village Rites
2 Claim the Firstborn
1 Gutterbones
2 Priest of Forgotten Gods
1 Mayhem Devil
1 Call of the Death-Dweller

Regi is the best card in the matchup. Resolve this card ASAP and Rec just rolls over. We side out 1 Devil and 2 Rites in this matchup, as you’re trying to aggro your opponent down asap. Watch out for Purphoros’s Intervention/Borrower, as those deal with Reg. If your opponent is on Ral’s Outburst over Flame Sweep/Storm’s Wrath, take Bearer out. You can mess with your Claim the Firstborn numbers depending on Play/Draw.

Mono Red/Cavalcade Red

InOut
1 Eliminate
2 Rotting Regisaur
1 Act of Treason
2 Noxious Grasp
1 Judith, the Scourge Diva
1 Gutterbones

Mono Red is one of your best matchups; Regi is a wall that Red can’t get over. We only bring in 2 as Red can go wide and Regi will only buy you 2-3 turns. Act of Treason deals with Torbran and Anax well, and more steal effects are good here.

Mono Green

InOut
2 Rotting Regisaur
2 Embereth Shieldbreaker
1 Act of Treason
1 Noxious Grasp
2 Village Rites
1 Dreadhorde Butcher
1 Gutterbones
1 Woe Strider
1 Mayhem Devil

This is a ridiculously easy matchup for us. If your Priest is uncontested, you just win the game. We have Breakers for Stonecoil Serpents/The Great Henge, Act of Treason because they have big bois, and Regi is here to block said big bois.

Mono Black

InOut
1 Eliminate
1 Act of Treason
2 Noxious Grasp

This matchup is also easy: if you keep a priest on board, you win, Claim is your best card to deal with opposing Regis, and Act is brought in to deal with Rankle/Spawn of Mayhem.

Gruul Aggro

InOut
3 Rotting Regisaur
1 Noxious Grasp
1 Eliminate
1 Act of Treason
1 Village Rites
1 Claim the Firstborn
1 Gutterbones
1 Priest of Forgotten Gods
1 Judith, the Scourge Diva
1 Dreadhorde Butcher

This matchup is generally favourable for you. Games two and three, your opp will probably bring in Klothys, God of Destiny so be mindful about what you keep in your graveyard. Regi is brought in to be a wall and to beat face.

Sacrifice Mirror

InOut
1 Eliminate
1 Liliana’s Standard Bearer
2 Embereth Shieldbreaker
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Act of Treason
2 Gutterbones
2 Dreadhorde Butcher
2 Noxious Grasp

This matchup is entirely based on who can cast and STICK a Mayhem Devil. Try to control the board the best you can and you should be fine.

Jund Sacrifice

InOut
1 Noxious Grasp
2 Embereth Shieldbreaker
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Act of Treason
3 Gutterbones
2 Dreadhorde Butcher

See Sacrifice Mirror notes. Grasp is in here for Scavenging Ooze and Korvold, Fae-Cursed King.

U/W Flyers

InOut
1 Eliminate
1 Noxious Grasp
1 Act of Treason
1 Village Rites
1 Gutterbones
1 Woe Strider

This matchup is almost laughably easy. Every card in your deck is designed to kill your opponents’ creatures or deal with their board. Watch out for Sephara (if they run it), Lofty Denial, and make sure you kill Skycat Sovereign.

B/W Yorion (I hate this deck)

InOut
3 Agonizing Remorse
1 Noxious Grasp
2 Embereth Shieldbreaker
2 Liliana’s Standard Bearer
1 Village Rites
1 Claim the Firstborn
1 Gutterbones
1 Priest of Forgotten Gods
1 Dreadhorde Butcher
1 Mayhem Devil
1 Call of the Death-Dweller
1 Woe Strider

This matchup sucks… Full stop. There is no other deck that obliterates you more than this one. Try to out-value them with your claims, deal with Kaya ASAP, and, if your opponents resolves Doom Foretold, it can sometimes kill them if you have Devil on board.

G/W Counters

InOut
1 Noxious Grasp
2 Embereth Shieldbreaker
2 Rotting Regisaur
1 Eliminate
2 Village Rites
1 Dreadhorde Butcher
2 Gutterbones
1 Judith, the Scourge Diva

This can be a scary matchup: while it’s VERY much in your favor, the counters deck can explode and quickly take over the board if you let it. Always kill Conclave Mentor ASAP. If your priest remains uncontested, you basically have full control of the board.

Rakdos Knights

InOut
1 Eliminate
1 Embereth Shieldbreaker
1 Act of Treason
2 Noxious Grasp
1 Gutterbones

This matchup is almost a free win; your deck is designed to beat these types of decks, so just be careful about Rankle and Spawn of Mayhem.

U/W Control

InOut
3 Agonizing Remorse
1 Noxious Grasp
2 Embereth Shieldbreaker
2 Liliana’s Standard Bearer
1 Act of Treason
4 Claim the Firstborn
1 Gutterbones
1 Priest of Forgotten Gods
1 Dreadhorde Butcher
1 Mayhem Devil
1 Call of the Death-Dweller

This matchup is actually a lot harder than you might think, with Dream Trawler and Archon of Sun’s Grace being real problems for this deck. Not to mention, Omen of the Sun constantly giving blockers/lifegain; lets not get into what they’re going to be bringing in cause it just all sucks for us. Don’t overcommit to the board, as shatter still exists. Don’t worry too much about teferi; he’s just a tempo play, and a bad one at that. Bearer will give you a lot of card draw after they Shatter and instant speed board wipes aren’t the worst as a result; just try to force them to use those during combat and not at the end of your turn.

Esper Bolas

InOut
3 Agonizing Remorse
1 Noxious Grasp
2 Liliana’s Standard Bearer/Embereth Shieldbreaker
2 Claim the Firstborn
1 Gutterbones
1 Priest of Forgotten Gods
1 Dreadhorde Butcher
1 Mayhem Devil

Esper Bolas can be a bit of a pain; you really have to be careful of whether your opp runs Cry of the Carnarium, or maindeck Kaya. Your gameplan is to just to aggro your opponent down before they stabilise and assemble too many planeswalkers.

Four-Color Reclamation

InOut
3 Agonizing Remorse
3 Rotting Regisaur
2 Liliana’s Standard Bearer
1 Village Rites
2 Claim the Firstborn
1 Call of the Death-Dweller
2 Priest of Forgotten Gods
1 Woe Strider
1 Mayhem Devil

This matchup is a bit harder since they have White in their deck. Be on the lookout for Devout Decree and Solar Blaze as that’s going to be their main ways to deal with our Rotting Regisaur.

Final Words

Thank you all so much for the kind words about this article, this is the first time I’ve ever done these and the fact so many of you trusted what I said and have even done well with it in tournaments over the past week has filled me with so much joy. If you have any questions you can @ me on Twitter or if you want to see me pilot this deck in action you can follow me on Twitch!

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DeepCrimson
1 month ago

Hey Samsoni1, awesome guide! I’ve been learning about this deck from watching your twitch channel and have been pretty happy with the results. In your section on Gutterbones you compare it to Sedge Scorpion, but did you mean to draw a comparison to Serrated Scorpion?

Drifter
Editor
1 month ago
Reply to  DeepCrimson

He did, yes! Fixed this, thanks.

renenarcisohd
1 month ago

I have always loved Rakdos Sacrifice, and have been thrilled with the new cards. I have attained around #50 Mythical with it, though I use the version with Midnight Reaper and no Butcher. Less explosion, but more midgame power, IMO.

shockungunya
1 month ago

Thank you for this awesome guide. I just got 7 victories in the Standard Meta Challenge ^^.
The deck is good and the SB guide very usefull.

Orlando
1 month ago

If the Deck is Top Tier… your Sideboard Guide is GOD TIER!!!

It has help me to understand some basic principles in sideboarding like don’t ruin the main gameplan of your deck while cutting cards.

SailAwayDan
1 month ago

Really appreciate this article! Loved the Sideboard Guide as I am just making the switch from Bo1 to Bo3. Been having nice success with the deck. Thank you!

pasorrijer
30 days ago

Thoughts on using Malefic Scythe to make giant cats and enormous Dreadhorde Butcher bombs?

CanuckMonkey
23 days ago

Thanks for the guide, Samsoni1. I feel like detailed guides like this are a rare gift. I’ve been enjoying Rakdos Sacrifice in Bo1 for a while and being able to step it up to Bo3 has been great! Earlier today I ran up against a Grixis control deck, and I was wondering what sideboarding you would recommend for this. Eliminate was good for Narset, Kroxa, and the Amass tokens from Enter the God-Eternals, and I brought in the two Agonizing Remorse as well, taking out two Claims and a Priest, but I was wondering if I should be bringing in… Read more »

betabrett0223
21 days ago

I’ve always strugged with sideboard (any format) this is really helpful I’ve been ranking up. However under Sacrifice Mirror it says bring out Noxious Grasp but that is the sideboard I assumed it meant village rites, but I just wanted to confirm.

betabrett0223
21 days ago
Reply to  betabrett0223

Nevermind I saw that you mained nox for the tourney

yarkiyluch
21 days ago

Hey Samsoni, thanks for this guide, its almost excellent but it misses a few tricks: you can sacrifice one more creature with your priest by choosing one more player who will sacrifice a creature and lose 2 life - yourself, and youll get additional trigger for your Devil; you can sacrifice food multiple times with a dead cat – if you have a lot of food, just do not resolve when cat is entering the battlefield and sacrifice another food token to trigger devil; if you feel yourself in menace – keep priest untapped and ready for opponents turn rather… Read more »

fred_erik_verf
20 days ago

Hey thanks for the amazing guide! I have some questions: what do you mean with the part about being on the play / draw in relation to village rites and claim the firstborn? Do you want claim on the play rather than on the draw? And if so, why is that the case? And for temur reclamation I think there is a typo since in the text you say that 2 rites are going out while the sideboard list only mentions 1.

betabrett0223
17 days ago

Is mono white showing up enough top ladder to make an update talking about what to side in against mono white?

betabrett0223
9 days ago
Reply to  betabrett0223

They bring in devouts and caskets. So does that means we bring in shield breakers right? I know our Judith (second mayhem devil) and mayhem devil is good against them so take out priest, dreadhorde and village?

ItadakiTontarou
15 days ago

Sick guide! Super fun deck that got me to mythic this season. Thanks for putting in the time to include information about matchups. Looking forward to seeing how you pilot it on your twitch as well 🙂